Research Note: Randomized field experiments published in the British Journal of Criminology , 1960–2004


Randomized controlled trials have become an important component of evidence-based policy in criminal justice. Because searches of electronic bibliographic databases often miss relevant trials, handsearch – or the visual inspection of the contents of an article – is recommended as an additional search strategy. In this paper, we conducted an electronic handsearch of every available issue of the British Journal of Criminology (1960–2004) to determine how many randomized field experiments were published. We compare these results to earlier manual handsearch efforts to augment the Campbell Collaboration Social, Psychological, Educational and Criminological Trials Register (C2-SPECTR). We find only nine trials (although two used quasi-random allocation such as alternation), and just one published in the past 20 years. We discuss some possible reasons for this, and conclude with a modest agenda for improving the reporting of evidence in the age of evidence-based policy.

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